HARTFORD - Katie Lou Samuelsonâ€™s favorite quarterback from her alma mater, Mater Dei High, is Matt Barkley. In 2013, Barkley became the schoolâ€™s third signal-caller taken in the NFL draft in eight years.
Samuelsonâ€™s right arm is used mostly for shooting on the UConn womenâ€™s basketball team. But her bomb that led to a layup for Napheesa Collier late in the first half of the second-ranked Huskiesâ€™ 99-63 rout of No. 16 DePaul at the XL Center Wednesday was as good a toss as Barkley, or Colt Brennan, or Matt Leinart could have made.
The little shimmy from the senior All-American that came with the assist was even better. Her 3-pointers - she tied Maya Moore for third on UConnâ€™s all-time list with 311 and passed South Floridaâ€™s Kitija Laksa for the top spot among American Athletic Conference players - are seldom celebrated so demonstrably.
â€śI donâ€™t know, that just kind of happened,â€ť Samuelson said with a laugh. â€śWe had talked about that in practice that if they match us with that four across weâ€™d try to throw it.
â€śItâ€™s almost more exciting to make a play, a pass like that. I shoot all the time. I shoot at practice. I donâ€™t usually practice throwing full-court passes to Phee. Itâ€™s something you get excited for. Just playing on a team and being involved is sometimes the greatest reward you can have.â€ť
Collier finished with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds to go with seven assists. Samuelson chipped in 23 points with a 5-for-6 effort from behind the arc, eight rebounds, and four assists.
The assist to Collier moved her into the top 25 on UConnâ€™s all-time list in that category. The Huntington Beach, California, native has 341 helpers as she passed Amy Duran.
â€śI thought I was going to miss it. I was going a little too fast,â€ť Collier said with a smile. â€śIâ€™m glad I made it. If I missed, Lou would have been mad.
â€śWe donâ€™t get those too many times. It was a fun play.â€ť
The Huskiesâ€™ senior class has had a lot of fun through six games as UConn (6-0) heads into Sundayâ€™s showdown with No. 1 Notre Dame in South Bend.
While many look ahead to the future this time of year with recruits signing their letters of intent, others still very much appreciate what they have now.
â€śWe lose two real good players for next year, two great players,â€ť UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. â€śThose two guys are first-team All-Americans. They should be co-Players of the Year, maybe, the way theyâ€™re playing right now.â€ť
The Huskies will leave for South Bend on Saturday for a two-game trip that will include Collierâ€™s homecoming against Saint Louis University Tuesday.
Notre Dame won the last meeting 91-89 in overtime in the national semifinals in Columbus, Ohio, on Arike Ogunbowaleâ€™s jumper with one second left en route to the Irishâ€™s second national championship.
â€śI donâ€™t know if we can say weâ€™re the underdogs, but itâ€™s one of the first times we have the opportunity to prove ourselves and show what we can do,â€ť Samuelson said.
An opportunity the seniors donâ€™t want to let pass by.